ELECTIONS IN ISRAEL 2003 Candidates | Election Day | Timetable | What next? The Election Process: Background National elections to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, are held once every four years, unless circumstances call for early elections. The framework of the Israeli electoral system is defined in Article 4 of the Basic Law: The Knesset, which states:
„The Knesset shall be elected by general, national, direct, equal, secret and proportional elections, in accordance with the Knesset Elections Law.” Note: The Basic Law: The Government 5752-1992 entered into effect with the elections to the 14th Knesset (1996). On March 7, 2001, the Knesset voted to change the system of direct prime-ministerial elections and restore the one-vote parliamentary system of government that operated until 1996, approving a reformed version of the original Basic Law: The Government 1968. This revised law will enter into effect with the next elections. General: On election day, voters cast one ballot for a political party to represent them in the Knesset. Every Israeli citizen aged 18 or older has the right to vote. Israelis of all ethnic groups and religious beliefs, including Arab Israelis, actively participate in the process and for many years, voting percentages have reached close to 80 percent. National: The entire country constitutes a single electoral constituency. Direct: The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, is elected directly by the voters, not through a body of electors. Equal: All votes cast are equal in weight. Secret: Elections are by secret ballot. Proportional: The 120 Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to each party’s percentage of the total national vote. However, the minimum required for a party to win a Knesset seat is 1.5% of the total votes cast. Knesset elections are based on a vote for a party rather than for individuals, and the many political parties which compete for election to the Knesset reflect a wide range of outlooks and beliefs. Every citizen aged 21 or older is eligible for election to the Knesset, provided they have no criminal record, do not hold an official position (the president, state comptroller, judges and senior public officials, as well as the chief-of-staff and high-ranking military officers, may not stand for election to the Knesset unless they have resigned their position at least 100 days before the elections), and the court has not specifically restricted this right (for example, in the rare case of a person convicted of treason). Israel’s elections reflect the strong democratic tradition of the State of Israel. Election campaigns are a lively affair, accompanied by vigorous debate of the issues. Israelis take a great interest in political affairs, including internal policy and foreign relations, and actively participate in the electoral process. Prior to the elections, each party presents its platform, and the list of candidates for the Knesset, in order of precedence. The parties select their candidates for the Knesset in primaries or by other procedures. Parties represented in the outgoing Knesset can automatically stand for re-election; other parties may present their candidacy by obtaining the signatures of 1,500 eligible voters and depositing a bond, which is refunded if they succeed in receiving at least 1.5 percent of the national vote, entitling them to one Knesset seat. Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to each party’s percentage of the total national vote. A party’s surplus votes, which are insufficient for an additional seat, are redistributed among the various parties according to their proportional size resulting from the elections, or as agreed between parties prior to the election. The number and order of members entering the new Knesset for each party corresponds to its list of candidates as presented for election. There are no by-elections in Israel. Should an MK resign or pass away in the course of the Knesset term, the next person on that party’s list automatically replaces him/her. According to the Party Financing Law, a treasury allocation for election campaigns is granted to each fat the rate of one pre-defined „financing unit” per seat won in the previous Knesset elections plus one unit per mandate won in the current Knesset elections, divided by two, plus one additional financing unit. New factions receive a similar allocation, retroactively, based on the number of seats won in the elections. No fmay receive a contribution, directly or indirectly, from any person or his dependents in excess of the sum established by law and linked to the Consumer Price Index. A for list of candidates may not receive a financial contribution from someone who is not eligible to vote in the elections. The Central Elections Committee, headed by a justice of the Supreme Court and including representatives of the parties holding seats in the Knesset, is responsible for conducting and supervising the elections. Regional election committees oversee the functioning of local polling committees, which include representatives of at least three parties in the outgoing Knesset. Anyone aged 16 or older is eligible to serve on a polling committee. Elections Committee Announcements According to the Basic Law: The Knesset, the Central Elections Committee may prevent a candidates’ list from participating in elections if its objectives or actions, expressly or by implication, include one of the following: negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people; negation of the democratic character of the State; incitement to racism. Background | Election Day | Timetable | What next? The Candidates Parties which submitted lists of candidates to the Central Elections Committee by Dec 12, 2002, and party leaders: (listed alphabetically) Ahavat Yisrael – Yossi Kadourie Am Ehad – Amir Peretz Center – David Magen Citizen and State – Alexander Zinker Democratic Front for Peace and Equality/Arab Movement for Renewal (Hadash-Ta’al) – Mohammad Barakeh Gesher – Eti Shiraz Asor Green Leaf (Ale Yarok) – Boaz Wachtel Green Party (Hayerukim) – Pe’er Wisner Herut – Michael Kleiner Labor-Meimad – Amram Mitzna Lahava – Avraham Ovadia Leeder – Alexander Radko Likud – Ariel Sharon Men’s Rights in the Family (Ra’ash) – Ya’akov Schlosser Meretz – Yossi Sarid Moreshet Avot – Yosef Ba-Gad National Democratic Assembly (Balad) – Azmi Bishara National Religious Party (Mafdal) – Efrayim Eitam National Unity (HaIchud HaLeumi) – Avigdor Lieberman Organization for Democratic Action – Asma Agbariya Progressive National Alliance – Hashem Mahameed Shas – Eli Yishai Shinui – Yosef Lapid Torah and Shabbat Judaism – Ya’akov Litzman Tzomet – Moshe Green United Arab List – Abdel Malek Dehamshe Yisrael Aheret – Boaz Nol Yisrael B’Aliya – Natan Sharansky Za’am (Social Justice) – Yoram Prayanti Candidates for the 16th Knesset as submitted by the parties to the Central Elections Committee on Dec 12, 2002 (subject to CEC approval by Jan 3, 2003). The Central Elections Committee discussed 13 petitions to disqualify candidates and parties in the January 28 election. The CEC ruled that Shaul Mofaz cannot run for the Knesset on the Likud list. It also ruled to disqualify Ahmed Tibi from the Hadash-Ta’al list, as well as Azmi Bishara and the Balad party. The CEC ruled that Baruch Marzel (Herut) and Abdel Malek Dahamshe (United Arab List) can stand for election. The Supreme Court on Thursday, January 9, 2003, issued its rulings on appeals against Central Elections Committee decisions: – Shaul Mofaz and Moshe Feiglin’s appeals were rejected, and they will not be able to run for election on the Likud list. – Baruch Marzel, Ahmed Tibi, Azmi Bishara and BALAD’s appeals were upheld, and they will stand for election. Headquarters of Lists Running for Knesset (phone numbers) Background | Candidates | Timetable | What next? Election Day All citizens aged 18 or older on election day are eligible to vote. Election day is a holiday in order to enable all to participate. Soldiers on active duty vote in special polling stations in their units. Special arrangements have also been made for prison inmates to vote, as well as for those confined to hospital. Israeli law does not provide for absentee ballots, and voting takes place only on Israeli soil. The sole exceptions are Israeli citizens serving on Israeli ships and in Israeli embassies and consulates abroad. Public information centers to verify right and place to vote: In accordance with the Elections Law for the 16th Knesset (Early Elections) (Temporary Order) 2002, the voters’ roll has been drawn up and includes the name of every citizen whose 18th birthday is no later than January 28, 2003. Sunday 19.1.03 (16:00 – 20:00) Monday 20.1.03 (16:00 – 20:000 Tuesday 21.1.03 (16:00 – 20:00) Wednesday 22.1.03 (16:00 – 20:00) Thursday 23.1.03 (16:00 – 20:00) Friday 24.1.03 (08:00 – 12:00) Sunday 26.1.03 (16:00 – 20:00) Monday 27.1.03 (07:00 – 22:00) Tuesday 28.1.03 (07:00 – 22:00) The centers will answer in the following languages: Hebrew: 1-800-200131 Arabic: 1-800-200132 Russian: 1-800-200133 Amharic: 1-800-200134 English: 1-800-200135 Spanish: 1-800-200136 Fax for the hearing impaired: 1-800-200130 Background | Candidates | Election Day | What next? Election timetable Oct 30, 2002 – Labor Party resigns from national unity government Nov 5, 2002 – Prime Minister Ariel Sharon calls early elections Nov 11, 2002 – Knesset sets January 28, 2003 as date for elections Nov 19, 2002 – Labor leadership primary Nov 28, 2002 – Likud leadership primary Dec 8, 2002 – Likud Knesset list to be selected Dec 9, 2002 – Labor Knesset list primary Dec 12, 2002 – Final date for Knesset lists to be handed to the Central Elections Committee Dec 24, 2002 – Transfer of voting materials to Israeli embassies abroad and to Israeli ships at sea Jan 3, 2003 – Approval of party lists by the Central Elections Committee Jan 5, 2003 – Final date to appeal disqualification of lists to the Supreme Court Jan 7, 2003 – Election advertising begins on radio and television; postal notification to be sent to voters to inform them that they are included on the voter roll Jan 16, 2003 – Elections in Israeli embassies and consulates abroad Jan 19, 2003 – Central Elections Committee publishes party lists for elections Jan 20, 2003 – Publication in newspapers of excess vote agreements signed between parties Jan 26, 2003 – Ballot slips distributed to ballot stations Jan 28, 2003 – Elections to the 16th Knesset Feb 5, 2003 – Publication of the official election results Feb 17, 2003 – Convening of 16th Knesset Political Structure and Elections The Electoral System in Israel Elections to the 16th Knesset – Official election website Summary of Laws Associated with Elections Election Results since the Establishment of Israel Background | Candidates | Election Day | Timetable What next? Election results are published in the official gazette eight days after the elections. The first session of the new Knesset is held approximately two weeks later and is opened by the President, who yields the chair to the oldest member. The Knesset members declare their allegiance, and the speaker of the Knesset and his deputies are elected. Forming the government The government (cabinet of ministers) is the executive authority of the state, charged with administering internal and foreign affairs, including security matters. Like the Knesset, the government usually serves for four years, but its tenure may be shortened if the prime minister is unable to continue in office due to death, resignation or impeachment, when the government appoints one of its members (who is a Knesset member) as acting prime minister. When a new government is to be constituted, the President of the State, after consulting with representatives of the parties elected to the Knesset, assigns the task of forming the government to a Knesset member. This Knesset member is usually the leader of the party with the largest Knesset representation or the head of the party that leads a coalition with more than 60 members. Since a government requires the Knesset’s confidence to function, it must have a supporting coalition of at least 61 of the 120 Knesset members. To date, no party has received enough Knesset seats to be able to form a government by itself; thus all Israeli governments have been based on coalitions of several parties, with those remaining outside the government making up the opposition. The Knesset member to whom the task is assigned has a period of 28 days to form a government. The President may extend the term by an additional period of time, not exceeding 14 days. If this period (up to 42 days) has passed and the designated Knesset member has not succeeded in forming a government, the President may then assign the task of forming a government to another Knesset member. This Knesset member has a period of 28 days for the fulfillment of the task. If a government still has not been formed, an absolute majority of Knesset members (61) has the option of applying in writing to the President, asking him to assign the task to a particular Knesset member. Such a precedent has yet to occur. When a government has been formed, the designated prime minister presents it to the Knesset within 45 days of publication of election results in the official gazette. At this time, he announces its composition, the basic guidelines of its policy, and the distribution of functions among its ministers. The prime minister then asks the Knesset for an expression of confidence. The government is installed when the Knesset has expressed confidence in it by a majority of 61 Knesset members, and the ministers thereupon assume office.